The Health Department (vs.) "The Natural World"
Currently, I am at a loss to understand how our individual pursuit of pleasure, or how we choose to educate ourselves is dictated by “State requirements.” I’m sure that somewhere along the way, and possibly unbeknownst to us, we gave our power away (or someone slipped in and wrote new laws while we weren’t looking,) but none-the-less, we have lost another slice of our freedom. Let me explain … As some of you know, I am blessed to own an exquisite piece of land that is abundant with Natural resources. The water is crystal clear, runs down from the high mountain; the meadows are filled with Wild-flowers and Medicinal herbs; the woodlands are home to Wild-life; there are no lights for 100 miles; traffic is almost non-existent; the air is pure. In truth, it doesn’t get much better. This is a healing place, a place where one leaves the detritus of daily life and becomes deeply aligned with Nature. (I’ve spent years running free up creeks and through woodlands so I know this to be true). Recently, a non-profit organization that teaches “wilderness skills” to children and adults wanted to lease my land for the summer and “teach wildness”. One would imagine that this land / this organization would be “a perfect match,” as well as an ideal situation for children to learn independence and come to know themselves through a different perspective. Yes, one would think this to be true. But alas, the “Health Department” stepped in with their “manual of requirements” (a manual that discourages “wildness” or any connection to the Natural world). My questions to “the Health Department” are “what do you have anything to do with how I choose to spend my summer; who invited you to this wildness; why do you dictate “what is sterile” and what is not; why do you write the rules”? (Not to mention that their rules pollute and are, for the most part, irrelevant)? And they’re in charge of how I pursue my ideal of wildness? Here’s the biggest dichotomy: the water running through this land is pure; however, this is irrelevant to the Health Department. In order to “teach wildness” I have to drop Clorox into my “spring-fed well” in order to “purify” water that is already pure. (In essence, to satisfy the “health” department’s requirements, I have to drink Clorox to be safe). But here’s their “good news” - if I don’t choose to drink Clorox, my other option is to bring in “bottled water.” Doesn’t the Health Department know that there are no restrictions on bottled water? That (for the most part) it’s tap water from faucets in “unregulated” areas? Or that Nestle and other large commercial (Soda) industries are getting rich on the “hype” of bottled water? Not to mention that plastic pollutes our environment and kills our Marine life? Something is most definitely wrong when a “Health department” encourages me to pollute and/or drink Clorox and kill Marine life in order to meet their requirements. The deal breaker to the organization not leasing my land was the Health Department’s “Commercial Kitchen” requirement. Lord knows we tried to surmount their requirements - but no, I don’t have a “Commercial kitchen.” I have a kitchen that has fed many, many people for numerous years; we have all drunk the water, eaten the food, walked in the wilderness and come to know a small slice of the Divine. (And no, in over 60 years of folks enjoying this wildness, no one has ever “gotten sick” from the water or wildness.) But the “Health Department” wants a “sterile” environment filled with Clorox and other “safety requirements” that ultimately will produce an environment where no wildness can exist, and a sterility that destroys the Natural world and our appreciation of it. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, everyone has lost. The organization has moved to an environment that the “Health Department” recommended. I support the organization’s decision; if they could not run their summer program, the foundation would cease to exist and that would be an irrevocable loss. It is my hope that one day the children who have gained wilderness skills from this organization will confront the “health departments of the world” and their irrelevant requirements. It is my opinion that their requirements have no place in the Natural world - and the Natural world should not be subject to their requirements. I believe when we, as a people, confront archaic and irrelevant “manuals of requirements” is when we will once again enjoy the beauty and abundance of our Natural world. However, if we choose to remain complacent and continue “to drink Clorox” – rest assured there will be no Natural world for us to enjoy, nor one that will be alive to sustain us. As a side and possible “poignant” note: Years ago the world was “appalled” by a group of Religious “fanatics” who followed Jim Jones and drank “Kool Aide” and committed “mass suicide”. It was quite frankly, horrific. At the time we all wondered “how could a group of people follow someone to mass suicide”? My question, “are we not doing the same when we follow toxic, irrelevant requirements mandated by a “department of whatever” ensuring that “their requirements are in our best interest”? Are we really that naïve? Personally, I will not drink Clorox or Kool Aide. Of this I have no doubt. In writing this article I ask that you be mindful of “what laws do you follow; what requirements do you adhere to; how are you protecting your Natural world”? If we do not protect what is ours, what is our Natural world, rest assured “Health Departments” are not protecting it, nor do they have any understanding of its vastness, or of its diversity. Clorox does not exist in the Natural world … Peace and abundance to all, Elise Muller, Proprietor / Artisan / Gardener / Lover of all things wild Mountain Spirit Botanicals